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REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATION ANNEX FOR AFRICA:

Apart from financial resources, the Regional Implementation Annex for Africa is perhaps the most contentious issue yet to be resolved. Developed and African countries remain divided on the scope and tone of the instrument. In particular, developed countries are opposed to the incorporation of specific commitments for either Africa or developed countries. They maintain that the annex should not contain obligations that are any more stringent than those enshrined in the main Convention. The debate has been somewhat perplexing. The African Group maintains that despite the legal rationales put forward by the North, the obligations and commitments that they have set out in their annex represent important expressions of their collective commitment to deal seriously with the issue. They also argue that since the financial commitments stipulated in the main Convention will be utilized in implementing the annexes for the different regions, whose needs are different, it stands to reason that each of the annexes should stipulate what financial requirements are needed and the mechanisms through which such resources are to be transmitted.

Several related problems have hindered the negotiation of the annex. First, a number of African countries have been under the impression that the regional annexes will not be accorded the same legal status of the main Convention. With this in mind, they have insisted on duplicating elements of the Convention in the annex and vice versa. However, according to Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and Article 31 of the draft INCD Convention, annexes do have equal legal status to conventions.

A second problem has been the need to ensure priority for Africa. Originally the plan was to develop a convention that would be general enough to include all countries affected by desertification and drought, and to negotiate a regional implementation annex to ensure priority for Africa. When representatives from other regions of the world, as early as INCD-1 expressed their desire to have implementation annexes of their own, the question of priority for Africa became more complicated. Now that it appears that at least three regional annexes will be ready for adoption in June, the question of priority for Africa is once again at the forefront. The Africans want to ensure that their annex is sufficiently specific, spelling out their own set of commitments to ensure that their countries receive special attention. The donors and representatives from other regions do not feel that such detail is necessary. The Africans maintain that this special attention is critical to the success of both the negotiations and the Convention.

Although debate may be contentious, each of these four major problems will be resolved in Paris. Some Parties may not be satisfied with the results, but the true success of these final compromises will only be known once the Convention enters into force. Only if the Convention is able to foster the action necessary to improve the situation in the world's drylands, particularly in Africa, can these negotiations be considered a success.

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